What happened to Nikica Jelavic?

February 28, 2013 in Premier League by Jamie Levitt

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What’s going on with Jelavic?

Some eyebrows were raised at the £5.5mil price tag for a striker from the Scottish Premier League, but it was clear that Everton were in desperate need of a striker, and Rangers were without paddles on a creek of proverbial sh*t. Nikica Jelavic has managed to go from one of the most accurate finishers in the league, to having scored just six goals from 23 league starts this season, also carrying the title of most offside player.

So, what’s the cause of such a big shift? Here are a few suggestions:

1.) He’s a marked man now. Upon arriving at Everton, not much was expected of Jelavic. Finding his goal scoring form could certainly be linked to the defenders of the Premier League not taking Jelavic seriously as a goal scoring threat. This, coupled with a desire to prove himself in what is a massive leap in league standard in his first year, could explain how he managed to find the net so regularly.

2.) Formation confusion. Last year almost all of Everton’s goals came from the telepathic left sided duo of Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar. All that was really asked of Jelavic was to make runs into the box. Even as a lone striker, rarely was he asked to hold the ball up. This season, however, Jelavic can frequently be found picking the ball up out wide. He doesn’t have the skill or pace to beat players, so all he can really do is play the ball back short, and then it’s in the box again before he’s even had time to turn.

3.) Marouane Fellaini. Adding to the position and role switch woes for Jelavic is the increasingly advanced position that Marouane Fellaini is being asked to play in. Having bossed a weak Manchester United defence, Fellaini is being thrown further and further up the pitch, leading to a much more direct game plan for Everton, a plan also necessitated by opposition teams bolstering the right side of defence against Bainaar (it’s like Brangelina, don’t question it). Jelavic is much more suited to finding space and waiting for the ball than attacking knockdowns for which he doesn’t possess the strength to contest.

4.) David Moyes. You could certainly make the case that Moyes is responsible for points 2 and 3; sure, it’s the up to the player to perform at a high level, but perhaps if Moyes concentrated on other players giving Jelavic service and not on Jelavic running the channels, the Croat would have found more goals. As great a manager as Moyes is, he’s never quite known how to make strikers work in his teams. We’ve taken previously prolific strikers such as Andy Johnson, James Beattie, Yakubu and now Jelavic, and after a second or third season, all have dried up. Certainly worth considering.

Make no mistake, the pressure is on Jelavic. The fans are getting restless, and Mirallas and Anichebe have both started scoring since Jelavic last put the ball away. If Fellaini is employed in his more natural central midfield position, not only will Everton regain some steel in midfield but hopefully provide Jelavic with some more ammunition. All players have periods of bad form, but if I’m being brutal, Jelavic’s lack of goals this season is the primary reason why we won’t be playing the Champion’s League next season. To use the words of my club’s motto: ‘Nil Satis Nisi Optimum’.

What now for Schteve McClaren?

February 28, 2013 in Premier League by Ben Said Scott

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Steve McClaren’s managerial career has not been an unmitigated disaster. Despite his last two spells in England, McClaren was highly thought of abroad, until recent results, which have seen the “wally with the brolly” sacked by his latest club FC Twente.

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A Spurs blog that doesn’t mention Gareth Bale

February 27, 2013 in Premier League by Joseph Kingsley-Nyinah

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With no Champions League this week, I could pretty much choose what I wanted to write about. So today, I’m gonna talk about a topic close to my heart – Spurs.

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Why Newcastle’s French Day was not an embarrassment

February 26, 2013 in Premier League by Daniel Lloyd

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A few people have claimed that Sunday’s match between Newcastle and Southampton was an embarrassment, but not because of the match itself, but because Newcastle had their ‘French Day’, with fans all over the stadium embracing the French culture that has swept over the Geordie nation. I am here to explain why this is not embarrassing in the slightest.

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The Battle for Promotion in League 1

February 26, 2013 in League 1 by Matt Harrison

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Wait! Don’t just flick past this article because the title says League 1. Stay. Sit down. Grab a drink and marvel at the utter mindf*ck that is the League 1 promotion race. After this weekend’s game, the current top 6 are separated by just two points and, with the exception of Swindon, have very similar goal differences. Next weekend is the first weekend in March, and there is no denying the fact that this is one hell of a close promotion race.

League 1 is sometimes a league of bizarre runs of form. Some teams have a decent budget and fan base, but a lot do not. Most teams are put together without paying any transfer fees (or any of note), and wage budgets are low. Players often work on one or two year contracts, and teams can change dramatically over the summer. Given all these facts, I believe, that League 1 really is a manager’s league, where it really is down to the top man to attempt to extract the best out of a decent group of players. So let’s take a look at the contenders and make some wildly inaccurate predictions.

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